Search billions of records on

Dear Old Greene County  

Section Five

Facts and Figures, Portraits and Sketches,
Of Leading
Those at the Front To-Day
And Others Who Made Good in the Past

by F.A. Gallt
Catskill, N. Y.

Original book provided by Celeste MacCormack and transcribed by Arlene Goodwin

The Catskill Improvement Association

The Catskill Association was formed in 1837 for the purpose of improving Catskill and “other purposes” according to the announcement of the organization. It had a capital stock of $746,000 and $74,600 was appropriated for improvements of land of the association and the officers were George S. Doughty president, Evan Griffeth treasurer, L. B. Woodruff, counselor, and Thomas Duguid secretary.

The first object named and duly mapped was a railroad from Catskill to Canajoharie, work of which was under way.  And the second object was a proposed canal to connect with the Erie Canal to Canajoharie, and this is duly mapped in the papers that have been loaned to us.  It was stated in the plan that Catskill had 3000 inhabitants, 40 shops and stores, 20 sloops and other river craft, and unlimited docking facilities. It was also announced “That a steamboat would be able to go to New York and back the same day.”  The canal would be 65 miles in length and the railroad 80 miles.  A meeting at the court house in the interest of this project was held and a resolution passed in favor of this project, being signed by Thomas Cooke, John Adams, Orrin Day, Ezra Hawley, Jacob Haight, Peter Breasted, Hiram Comfort, Isaac Van Loan, P. T. Mesick, Amos Cornwall, John M. Donnelly, Francis Sayre, Malbon Watson, Caleb Day, S. L. Penfield, Luke Kiersted, F. N. Wilson, Horace Willard, J.R. Greene, Joshua Atwater, John Thompson, Caleb Hopkins, Robert Dorland, Frederick Hill, Tuzar Buckley, S. Sherwood Day, Judson Wilcox, John R. Sylvester, Leonard Kingsley, Edmund Hatfield, John Van Vleck, Robert Harrison, Edgar Day, J. W. Baldwin, Geo. Hardenburgh, Wilkes Hyde, Henry Mc Kinstry, Francis Marvin, Ira Du Bois, Nathan Farrell, Peter Schaurman, George Marvin, Caleb Crosswel, John Abeel, T. C. Atwater, John Rowe, Stephen Bosworth, Ephraim Beach.

Greene County’s Constitutional Revisionist

There are few young men in the State of New York who have risen to prominence and have a more brilliant career before them than H. L. Austin, of Catskill, and there have been many men who have been conspicuous in every way.  He is favorite son of Greene county and it is with pleasure that we are able to include him in the list of brilliant men who have made the county what it is.

Barely past the 40 year line, he has become one of the greatest corporation attorneys in the state, representing the great New York Central Lines the past three or four years, and just at present is conspicuous as having been selected by a splendid majority to represent the Empire state in Constitutional Convention. Broad minded, public spirited and capable beyond the average man, he is of all others the one to fill with credit the post of responsibility.

He served eight years as chief of the finance bureau, State Comptroller’s office; District Attorney of Greene County, by appointment of Governor Hughes; conducted investigations into municipal affairs in Westchester and Broome counties by designation of then Comptroller Martin H. Glynn, and in Schenectady county by designation of Comptroller Williams. As a result of his investigations a judgment for over $60.000 was recovered for fees illegally taken from the County of  Westchester; in Broome county the County Treasurer and Clerk of Board of Supervisors convicted of misappropriation  of county funds and over $25,000 recovered by the county; in Schenectady county, members of the Board of Supervisors and others  convicted and about $10,000 recovered from a former sheriff.

In 1910 Mr. Austin was designated by Governor Hughes to investigate the purchased of lands in the Adirondacks by the State, and unearthed great frauds, leading Governor Hughes to appoint him Forest, Fish and Game Commissioner of the State.

It was during this sweeping reform that Mr. Austin brought about while he was at the head of the Forest, Fish and Game Commission that he had occasion to meet out a little justice in Greene county of the sort that has always stamped him as a great man.

Just about the time he went into office there were a poor lumberman named Walter Dederick of Leeds, who had cleared a piece of land and because of sickness had not been able to take care of the tops.  Some game warden got in line and a fine of $200 was levied upon Mr. Dederick, who had the double misfortune of having lost his leg in a lumber camp. It was a grave injustice, and the first thing that Mr. Austin did was to proclaim it as such, and then he went down into his pocketbook and paid the little fine.

And there you have the caliber of the man who is going to go a good deal higher in the political field before he is through.

He is at present associated with Messrs. Visschner & Walen of Albany, under the name of Visschner, Walen & Austin.

Individual Money

It may be interesting to know that there was a very great scarcity of money in Catskill and all through Greene county during the period of the Rebellion, and that while the country was overrun with coins of the size of pennies, that became known as tokens, individual firms had shin-plasters and many issued tickets that went as-money. Judge Chase has in his collection of curios 167 varieties of these early tokens, and a collection of tickets that went as money.

  Some of these read:

Due to Bearer


At Wicks Market

Good for


at Meech & Bagleys Store


Good for


At My office in Leeds
Or at the Fiero Stores

Good for


At Julius Sauls

He also has a collection of script of the Old Greene County Bank, and the Catskill bank: in denominations from One Dollar and a Half to $100.

He also has one of the tickets used at the time of the Walsh trial. This read:

Supreme Court, Greene County,
Admit Bearer
Platt Coonley, Sheriff of Greene County

A Great Inventor From Prattsville

Wm. Bullock, we are informed, was born at Greenville and subsequently removed to Prattsville where he worked in a printing office. He was a great genius and invented while at that place the first rotary perfecting printing press in the country, which printed from a roll and finished both sides at once. This was the greatest invention in printing and many others have taken up the Bullock idea.  In 1849 he is said to have removed from Prattsville to Catskill and to have been connected with a paper published at Prattsville and moved to Catskill. It is likely this paper was the American Eagle, though the historian has it that he published the Banner of Industry, also Democratic Herald by Lyman Tremaine, and subsequently merged with the Recorder. In 1867 Mr. Bullock was hurt while putting up one of his presses at Philadelphia, his death being the result.

William Bullock married Emily Rundell, a  Greenville woman, and he had two sons, one of whom, William, was at Prattsville last summer, on a visit to the Maces, who are related to him.  The other son is Harry Bullock. After the death of William Bullock, Mrs. Bullock moved to Prattsville, and subsequently married Danforth Frair. Through Sidney Crowell, she was able to recover $5000, and Mrs. Crowell got $500 for getting it. The facts in regard to the suit, we do not know.

He was born in 1814 and died in 1867, and Mr. Crowell who recovered the money for  heirs was at that time practicing law at Prattsville. Mr. Bullock tried in vain to have the patent on his press renewed. At the time of the invention he was operating a foundry at Ashland. 

First Catskill Steamer

Geo. Hallott of Catskill was engineer.

A man of considerable note, the town of Halcott being named for him.

The representation below of The Frank which we are informed was the first steamboat running from Catskill to New York and it was around 1837. The drawing is from a picture in the possession of Judge Chase and is prized by him, as there are few if any other pictures of the boat.  This boat ran semi-weekly trips to New York.  The first ferry was a scow propelled by oars, and then after many years that was succeeded by a horse power ferry, and then the A. F. Beach.

Talk about Longfellow and Bryant and all the other great poets, in 1837 there was printed a big volume of poems entitled the “Farmers Muse” written by Benjamin Hine of Cairo. A well bound leather covered volume of 273 pages. And the Book was a seller. Mr. Hine we find was a celebrated character in his native town, and familiarly known as Big Ben, and also as Old Ben Hine.

Cholera in Catskill

Catskill was visited by the cholera in 1832, 1834, 1849 and again in 1884, and the plague was laid to the conditions that were permitted to exist in the neighborhood of the Hoponose and along Greene street.  There were several slaughter yards in that section, and the enormous catches of herring, which were stored there, were allowed to rot, and create a very filthy condition.  Captain John H. Bagley, in his reminiscence says that in 1854 there were 300 cases of cholera in Catskill, and a very large proportion of that number died. There was no rain from May to September, and the cholera period extended over a part of May, June, July, August and September.

A great many people left Catskill and went into the mountain section, and were safe.  Ministers and doctors were among the number leaving the place, though Dr. George A. Howard, pastor of the Presbyterian Church, is said to have returned to Catskill to assist in the funeral work.  Of the physicians who remained, Dr. Bell was stricken and died. He revived, however, after he had been placed in a coffin, and climbed out and got a gun to shoot the persons who had laid him out, but soon passed away. Men were walking the street, and a few hours later were dead. One woman, Mrs. Philip Brown recovered after being in her coffin, and lived for years. Cholera, yellow fever and small pox, appear to have been disease of filth,  and made terrible ravages.

Harmony Lodge was organized in 1795, and Stephen and Ira Day were second and third on the record. There was another man named Whittemore, and the early scribe thus writes his immortal epitaph, possibly epithet:

“Mister Whittemore, Axed sixpence to bore a small gimlet hole thro a mop pole.”

This certainly was shocking.

In 1718 an act was passed granting freeholders and inhabitants of the precincts of Catskill and Coxhackey in ye county of Albany the privilege of choosing yearly a supervisor.

In Times of the Catskill Whig

From the Catskill Messenger, published by Ira Du Bois in 1830, a copy of which was preserved by the late Judson Wilcox, we are able to secure a number of interesting matters. The paper was 4 pages of 6 columns and the subscription price was $2.50 per year.

One of the most conspicuous matters advertised was Wheaton’s Itch Ointment, 25 cents, “Cures in an Hour,” The itch was called loathsome disease. Also a cure for “fever and Ague.”

Croswell and Brace, druggists, of whom we are able to present pictures, sold “Jaundice Bitter.” “Davenport’s Celebrated Eye Water,” and “Bilious Pills.”  Henry Mc Kinstry sold “Hygiean Medicine” which was guaranteed to cure Small Pox, Kings Evil, Apoplexy, Palsy, Consumption, and other ills including St. Vitus Dance. This medicine was alleged to have been recommended by a lot of Royal Eminent Gentlemen.  $2.00 packet.

The shipping was done by Penfield and Day who operated the sloops Buck Tail and Shakespeare.

The streamers Champlain and North America between Albany and New York landed at Catskill running day trips and the Dewitt Clinton and the Ohio and Robert L. Stevens night line on same route did not stop at Catskill.

T. C. Atwater sold saw mill cranks, iron and steel.

Griggs and Bullock sold ploughs

J. W. Hunter sold crowbar drafts.

S. Bosworth and J. Gebbard sold satin beaver hats.

T. C. Atwater sold bark mills.

H. Comfort sold prepared floor plank.

Francis Sayre offered $1000 for any stove that beat his invention.

S. W. Bullock and Co. sold leather rollers.

Riesdolph and Van Kuren took care of the horse shoeing.

C. Trowbridge operated a soap and candle factory.

Thomas Reed taught a select school on William street, district school building.

The block of stores occupied by William L. Du Bois, Howard Smith, the Examiner and the old building on the Hasselman lot since remodeled, was built by Mackey Croswell, and the Croswells and Dr. Brace had their offices on Greene street. Here the first Catskill Packet was printed and this building was later moved to the corner where the express office now is where they opened a drug business. In 1822 they built the brick block, where they continued. Later Benjamin Wey and Wm. L. Du Bois at the same stand, Mr. DuBois over 61 years.


The steam Boat OHIO, having been chartered by the Whigs of New York for the occasion, left that city this morning at 7 o’clock for Albany. She will fire salutes at the different Landing along the river, in honor of the GLORIOUS VICTORY obtained by our Whig Friend in Ohio. She will pass our landing between 3 and 5 o’clock this afternoon, at which time the Whigs of Catskill are requested to assemble at the point, and give her a reception worthy of so glorious a result. 

                       By order of the Committee

Catskill, October 30, 1834


The Whigs will also bear in mind the meeting at
BEACH’S this evening.

                     Photo Reproduction Poster preserved by the late Judson Wilcox 1834

  Mr. Sturtevant had a classical school.

  Henry Mc Kinstry sold dry goods.

  T. C. Atwater sold Nott’s Salamander Stoves and the Parker’s Prophesy Stoves.

  John Walcott sold flour at $6.50 per barrel.

  Henry Mc Kinstry sold groceries.

  Isaac Rich sold boots and shoes. 


NOTICE is hereby publicly given
to fisherman, that the undersigned have become acquainted with the existence of an odious monopoly is composed of a combination of a Trinity of two Deacons and one devil, and has for its object the total forestalling of fishing on the Plauchy.  To obviate the disadvantages which the subscribers are subject by this precious trio of religion and iniquity, they hereby give notice that they wish to hire twenty fisherman for the ensuing season, who can bring testimonials that they will chew as much tobacco, drink as much liquor, and whistle as good a tune as the devil himself, (who is a Walker about, seeking whom he may devour,) with the aid of his two arch-deacons. None other need apply, and those who come well recommended for the above precious qualifications, will be paid liberal wages.

                                             Morgan Stockings & Co.

Catskill, February 9, 1835

Poster Preserved by Judson Wilcox

Of Reminiscent Interest 

Solomon Chanler who conducted a hotel at Bridge street corner, Catskill, called the village tavern, is said by early writers to have had a club foot, hickory cane and voice like a Numidian lion.  He spent most of this time groaning sacred music.  He was grandfather of Henry Baker, whom the writer remembers 30 year ago as conducting a printing office near the Saulpaugh.

Ben Hallenbeck operated a scow ferry between the Point and the opposite side of the river, and it almost broke his heart when he had to give way to the horse propelled ferry.

It is interesting to note that in 1807, Henry Ashley was a tanner, John Blanchard, Nathaniel Hinman, Lemuel Hall, Simon Sanford, David Thorpe and Shadrack White were cordwainers. Abijah Beach was a saddler, and so was John Bolen, Henry Homediu was a wheelwright, Stephen Root was a tanner, Joshua Stebbins was a nailor, James Cole a cabinet maker, Ephram Baker, Adonija Baker, John Hyde, and Jared Stocking Blacksmiths, Peter Breasted a glazier, Caleb Crowell a gilder, Elisha Ferguson a cooper, David Horton a weaver, John Doane, who rounded the century and is remembered by some Catskillians was a ship joiner, Jehiel Preston made clocks, Mackey Croswell was a printer, John Lacy a ship builder, and also John Gager. There was quite a number of house joiners: Henry Selleck, Reuben Sanderson, Herman Hinman, Nathaniel Eels, Benjamin Sole, ship carpenters, John Olcott made rope.  Occupations that have passed, as well as men.

Dr. Croswell used to boast that he had a white horse, a white cow and a white Nigger, and the latter took care of the others and at odd times blacked the doctor’s shoes, pumped the soda fountain and rolled the pills. He also was an expert at killing and dressing hogs.

Our reporter who spent many hours in the local cemeteries alleges that he was unable to start an argument. He listed the name of Hiland Hill who we find was an old builder of sloops and had a ship yard on the Creek near the Point, possibly where Benter now is. Richard Hill who was a brother is said to have represented the United States as Consul at Valpariso.  He sent a couple of natives to Catskill to be educated by Dr. Porter. Hiland Hill Jr. is remembered by the writer, as cashier of the Catskill Bank.

Charles Bliven one of the early residents of the West Side, Catskill, is said to have given the name Blivenville to the section which still remains. The Blivens were relatives of Mrs. R. D. Miller.

Among the names that are to be found on the old register of the Catskill Mountain House is that of Aaron Burr, a famed character of the Colonial period. Mr. Burr frequently made trips into this section and the Mountain House which was on a primitive road was reached by saddle parties, and these parties took several days or weeks to make trips farther into the country. Mr. Burr probably was on his way from a visit to the Prevosts at Greenville as he resided at Albany, and later on was married to widow Prevost.

In the course of several interviews with F. N. Du Bois who lived in Catskill we have been able to get some very interesting matters of the early times that had never before found their way into print and which form a part of this book. One of the pleasantries of the early history which he tells is of Government Meat Inspector Williams who was stationed at Catskill Point during the days of slaughter houses to which we have referred. Williams was great on his judgment of meat, and Willis was also very tender on venison and bear steaks.  Peter Schutt, grandfather of Louis P. Schutt who kept the old hotel where Frank Ryan is located was a great practical joker.  After one of his successful hunts he made Williams a present of fine bear steak, and after Williams had exploited his bear steak to this hearts content, Schutt very sedately informed the inspector that it was a pig steak. Mr. Schutt afterwards purchased the property at Kaaterskill falls where the Laurel House is located, and this was run about 25 years ago by L. P. Schutt.

Mr. Du Bois tells of visiting the old paper mill in Austin’s Glen with his father when a lad, and of the interest he took in watching the paper making.  The old mill had been torn down.

John Du Bois who at one time lived with his parents in the homestead house on the Du Bois place drove to Newburgh with a load of straw, going and returning on the ice and he sold his load to Gen. George Washington for use in the Continental army. He was then a lad of about 17 years. Whether the money he received in payment for the straw was worth a Continental or not we know not. The expression came down and still is common. In those days there was a loom and spinning wheel in every house, and the lumber used was sawed out by hand. Many of the big cedars were worked up with the aid of a whip saw.

Mr. Du Bois says that around 1841 he attended a lecture by one of Catskill’s teachers, Prof. R. L. Ross and that he demonstrated the electric light. Nor has he forgotten the old ruler with which Mr. Ross demonstrated that he was master of the school.  He also remembers Dr. Porter very well, at the time when he lived at the corner of Spring and William streets, being the last house in the direction of the river.

George C. Fox until recently in business on the corner of Main and Factory streets recalls the visit of Jay Gould to Catskill in the early 30’s, on which occasion Mr. Gould had with him a wheelbarrow which he was pushing through the street, and that barrow contained a surveyor’s outfit with which he was making the  necessary surveys for maps of Greene, Schoharie, Delaware and other counties. A few of these maps are still in existence and they are worth their weight in gold.  The maps showed views of villages and the location of residences scattered along the highways over which Mr. Gould passed. And Mr. Gould failed not to collect tribute for the jotting of the locations of farm houses on the map. The surveying of these maps led to the great railroad interests of Mr. Gould.

L. S. and William Smith built a considerable part of Catskill, and they fill and important niche in the history of Catskill. Wm. Smith came to Catskill from South Westerlo around 1820 or possibly earlier and his last visit to Catskill was during Old Home Week 1908, when he was seen on the streets in his suit of stars and strips, recalling to Catskillians the fact that he was the original Uncle Sam. He was then bordering 90 years of age and sprightly as the average man of 60.  In company with his brother they employed at times 100 masons and carpenters, and their work is still in as good shape as when first built.  The mansion of Artist Church on Mt. Merion was built by them, and many other buildings including the Catskill High School, the Fiero house on William street, the Methodist church, Baptist church, in 1850. Among the tradesman who learned their craft of this firm were the Wolfs, Rulands, Edwin Lampman, Geo. W. Holdridge, Adrain Mull, Gotleib Fromer, Charles Beardsley and Geo. H. Warner.

We present a very fine portrait of William Smith. He died at Tuscon, Arizona, in 1910 at the age of 91 years. He was formerly reputed to be wealthy, but at the time of this death he was in absolute poverty, and a subscription was raised to save his remains from a pauper’s grave.

In the barn of another hotel la Brosnaham’s street, now Bronson street a man named Highdecker hanged himself, and the incident killed his business.

The writer remembers that in 1882 there hung on the wall in the Catskill Recorder office a long strip of ironwood bark drawn into a slip knot, and dusty with age, and near by it was the skin of a 6 foot rattle snake. With the bark slip knot an old settler had hanged himself, and he is led to believe it may have been Highdecker.  Nelson Mundin a Catskill fish peddler of very uncertain age ranging the 90’s possibly used to come to the office of the Recorder and usually this slip knot was exhibited to him and he would turn and run away in great terror.  Mundin had an idea that if he went to bed he would die, and it was said that he slept in a chair, and it is certain that he died setting in a chair. We can still hear him calling “Fresh Prospect Park Shad.”

The slaughtering of cattle in a regularly conducted meat business commenced at Catskill Point around 1800, at which time cattle in large droves were sent across the country through Gilboa, Prattsville, Cooksburgh to Catskill, and while vast numbers were sent to New York to be slaughtered many were killed at the Point for packing purposes. Solomon Woodruff and Francis N. Wilson were at the head of this industry. Every barrel of pork or beef to pass government inspection and was marked U. S.  Samuel Wilson was the inspector and originated the term known as Uncle Sam. James Gleason was the boss and when pay day came he would climb up a ladder an announce to the men that they had the week spilled more blood than ever Napoleon did. F. N. Wilson Fire Company was named in his honor. 300 cattle were killed a day.

Orlando Bogardus later came into prominence as a dealer and always announced that the weight was plump scant when he made a sale.  Later Captain Hiram Bogardus was in the business and had associated with him Oliver Bourke. Mr. Bourke, a man of sympathy and well and honorably known whose death occurred a few years ago.

In addition to the slaughter of cattle, tanning hides was one of the early and leading industries of Greene county and neighboring counties in fact, an industry that has passed. Col. Zadock Pratt the George Washington of the county was one of the pioneers in this industry and made a fortune in the business at Prattsville. Jay Gould was associated with him in Pennsylvania. Few Catskillians are aware that that large tannery was located a the head of Main street.  This was owned and managed by Henry Ashley, Nicholas Swartout and later Jones and Bagley, who had numerous business enterprises in Catskill, hotel, grocery, boarding house, etc. Another tannery was located on the Hans Voseenkill.

From a description of town and county life in America in 1800 we gather the information that Catskill in 1792 numbered 10 dwellings, and there were in 1800, 156 houses, 2 ships, 1 schooner, 8 sloops, each capable of transporting 100 tons, and all carrying produce to New York. On a single day in 1801 four thousand bushels of wheat were brought to Catskill and 800 loaded sleighs came in by the western road. At this time Catskill was something of importance as a center of trade the western part of the county and adjoining counties and the point from which most of the shipping was done.

During the 20’s Catskill had an artillery company that was commanded by the intrepid and crafty Jared Stocking, and Athens had another that was commanded by Capt. Sam. Hamilton. The war spirit was still thrilling their veins, and when the Athenians stole down and captured Catskill’s brass 6 pounder there was some big fight on.  Catskill wanted to celebrate. They did so, but Athens got the gun and hid it, and went to Mackey Croswell’s good rum, they discovered that Stocking’s men in their bare feet had got the gun. And they hid it so successfully in Isaac Du Bois loft that it never came back.

Wooley Scott lived near Diamond Hill which was removed to make room for shale brick plant opposite the Hopenose, and he was one of the most eccentric characters of the early period. Tradition says that he was never sober on a week day or drunk on Sunday, and that while he was taking in the yarns, reminiscence, and elixirs of the groggery, he was jibed by boys, like Catskill boys 30 years ago pestered the High Hill Hallenbecks, three characters who came to Catskill with a few bean poles to sell generally, and getting loaded would start for home. Then a pack of boys would follow them through the street and take their poles, pull them from the wagon and do all sorts of things to anger them. These men will be remembered by many. Wooley Scott was the victim of some very mean pranks. The boys not only stole his clams, dumped his sand, lured away his horse, but they set fire to his load of straw.  Wooley claimed that he was a near relative of Sir Walter Scott, but he was a better judge of rum than poetry.

In his reminiscence of Catskill, Thurlow Weed tells of the murder of one John Williams, and that after the finding of the body it was shown that he had been at the house of Nancy McFall. The angry populace gathered at the McFall place and demolished it. Later the alleged murderer was apprehended, convicted, and hanged.  An hour afterward a reprieve arrived. That was sound 1800.

Dr. Croswell, Rev. Dr. Porter and Major Jacob Haight who served the County in the legislature are reckoned by Mr. Weed as the  three great men of the early period. He also classed Judge Moses Cantine as a Christian gentleman and a lawyer, 1812. The Judge was state senator and being a Catskill printer succeeded Judge Buell as state printer.

In 1838 there was located in the rear of the Methodist church at Catskill, a brick yard operated by Chauncey Hall, and there was another yard on Academy street operated by one Denell and from 1839 to the present time there has been a brick yard at the Hop-o-nose. The first was operated by Eber Scott and later by Cole followed by Thos. E. Ferrier and later Ferrier and Golden and now by Golden and Son. There was another brick yard where the Holdridge stone dock now is, operated first by four brothers, later by Holdbrook, who was put out of business when the great bank in the rear of the yards slid down into the valley burying a big kiln of green brick.  Joseph Hallock put up a stately brick house on the site of this yard.  Samuel Du Bois, an early settler, had a yard near the present Glass works, and the brick from Catskill went into the Croton reservoir many of them.

Another successful yard was that of Cooke and Hardwick, later the Walshs, and the Ferriers, and for many years the Washburns.

A very interesting incident happened at Leeds in the days of the early history of the Dutch church which has withstood the storms of over a century.  It appears from the narrative of Benjamin Wiltse an old resident of Catskill who used to tell about the incident, that the old bell that called to worship had a harsh discordant melody that jarred the nerves of the old ladies of the congregation and finally it was planned to have the bell retuned. Milton Fowks had an enviable reputation as a founder, and he could tune a bell to the Queen’s taste. So Milton was waited upon by a delegation and it was all arranged that the great discordant bell should be lowered from the steeple, and taken to a convenient spot near the bridge, where with water handy the tuning was to be done. Then a scaffold was built and the bell suspended beneath it, and with plenty of rails and branches of trees, a fire was started under the bell.  About this time Old Bill Schuneman suggested that while the metal was getting warmed up they should all go up to the tavern and get a gin cocktail.  This was done and in the ginning up the fire grew warmer and the bell was forgotten for a time. On their return to the creek the bell was found to have entirely melted.  The discordant melody of the old bell disturbed the quiet of the Leeds Sundays nevermore.

Spofford’s Gazetteer of 1813 says in referring to the business of that period, Catskill will probably become the third if not the second city on the Hudson in wealth, population and commercial importance.

In 1812 a penalty of $10 was authorized as a punishment for any child, slave, apprentice or servant firing fire crackers or other fireworks in Catskill.

Orrin Day grandfather of Orrin Day president of the Tanners National Bank of Catskill, is said to have been first chief of the Catskill fire department in 1824. The first mention of a fire organization was in 1806, and in 1807 Richard Hall and Orrin Day were at the head of a fire company, the first named being foreman. An in 1809 a bucket ordinance was passed. There was a fine of $3 for not complying with the bucket law and Orrin Day was authorized to prosecute any persons not complying with the law.

In 1824 money was appropriated for the purchase of a hand engine, hose and a lot on which to build an engine house. In 1827 Hook and Ladder Company No. 1 was formed. T. K. Cooke, Philander Selleck, Henry Hill, James Van Gorden, James Pinkney, Judson Wilcox, and James Breasted were members of this company. Later came Caleb and Orrin Day.

One of the important early interests was the marble business and a pioneer in that line was Israel H. Baldwin in the early 30’s. He was the first. He drove to Catskill with a wagon load of marble and stopping in front of Lynn’s Hotel the horse was stricken with blind staggers and fell on him. For 6 months he was laid up and in May, 1834, he commenced to make tombstones. Later he took in a partner named Whitney, who robbed the firm and it took Mr. Baldwin 20 years to recover from the financial blow.  He was in business where the public library now stands,  and was succeeded by his son Charles who moved to Water street and later to Main street near the Commercial Hotel. He died in 1898 at the age 85 years. He was one of the leading men in the First Baptist church and superintended the building of the present church in 1871. He was also a member of the Board of Education for 20 years.

Charles Baldwin conducted the business until his shop was torn down to make room for the village building.  As a marble cutter he was an artist.

George Elliott had a marble business in Jefferson in 1863. C. A. Noble commenced operations in 1882.

One of the oldest men of Catskill who but recently passed was Henry Limbrick, of Livingston street. From 1836 to 1864 he was in the employ of Mr. Beach and in the 70’s was in the harness business at the corner of Thomson and Main streets.

The first bakery was started at Catskill by a man named Kendall, whose brother had the distinction of being postmaster General under Andrew Jackson.  Amos Kendall was the most efficient postmaster of his day.  Baker Kendall did a living business, near the Saulpaugh. He was succeeded by Reuben Pennoyer father of Capt. William A. Pennoyer, who later was in the jewelry business and who somewhat eccentric is well remembered by some Catskillians. Pennoyer had a motto on his wagon announcing that “Our Country Wants Bread.” This was around 1836.

John Ashley came into competition with Pennoyer about this time.  He was also a trustee. John Ashley a son succeeded him as dough man, and later his son Edward Ashley, who took up the practice of menicine and moved to Athens. John R. Hicks took up the business and was later on succeeded by McLaughlin and Carey. Other bakers were Henry Selleck, Selleck and Brown, Willis Selleck and during the 80s Edward Ashley who occupied the Bloom building on lower Main street and was burned out.

And the interesting incident that is vouched for concerning one of the old residents of Leeds, who recently passed away is that on a certain occasion he called upon the young lady who afterwards became his wife, and was invited to tea.  At the table he noticed that his hair had not been combed as he was seated opposite the looking glass. This flustered him and he dropped his fork. Reaching to pick it up he tipped a cup of tea down his back. Getting straightened around finally he noticed a flap of the table cloth in his lap and thinking that it was a part of his shirt pushed it back as he supposed, but made it fast by tucking it into the top of his trousers.  A little later when he got up he carried table cloth, dishes etc., along with him and the dishes crashed at his feet.  It was several weeks after that before he visited at V____s again.

Edwin Ashley, father of Mrs. I. W. Brandow, was a great fireman and for years at the head of the Catskill department.

One of the early shoe dealers was S. B. Ahreet, father of John D. Ahreet who continued the business. Mr. Ahreet manufactured most of his goods at the start but later on came to store kind. The firm now is Ahreet & Cussler.

Joshua Fiero one the early dry goods dealers came to Catskill in 1838 and in 1840 started in business at the corner of Main and Thompson streets, and for 20 years he had stores in Leeds, Kingston, and Auburn as well. He was elected to the legislature in 1854, and Senator Harris said he made the best presiding officer the senate ever had.  The business was continued by his daughter Miss M. Fiero and she sold out to Fred Conklin in 1915.

The old grocery store in West Catskill is another landmark. It has been in the grocery line for over 100 years. The first record we have is of Samuel Du Bois. The record is broken but another early dealer was Charles Abeel. Sandy Phillips, H. W. Terwilliger, and F. D. Woolhiser are within the present scope.  Earlier grocers were W. W. Van Loan, Caleb Spencer, Judson Wilcox, Wilson Paige, Philip Van Orden and J. J. Donnelly.

GREENE Co. Whig.



Monday, April 14, 1851 

Destructive Fires !!! 

Two Churches Burned

Thirty Building Destroyed

  Loss $50,000 !

About three o’clock, this morning, a most destructive fire swept through the Southern portion of our village. Commencing  in the stables of the Green County Hotel, it extended to the livery establishment of Messr. Beach, and to the stables of Franklin House, and the Hotel. From thence it extended to the Dutch Church and the buildings in the rear.
It then swept over to the west side of Main street, and the Baptist Church and  several other buildings were soon enveloped in flames.
The leaping waves of flame, as they swept up the tall spires of the Churches, with snake-like rapidity, conspired to render the scene sublimely grand and magnificent.
The following property is destroyed: Beachs Livery Stables, including 12 horses, 4000 bushels oats, carriages and all the appurtenances, entirely destroyed. Loss about $15,000—insured for about $3,500.
Greene County Hotel, kept by Van Bergen, Insured for $2,000—loss $3,000. 2 horses perished.
Franklin House, occupied by George Prime—and the building adjoining, occupied by S. Bosworth. Loss $5,000—insured for $3,000.
Reformed Dutch Church—insured for $4,000. Loss $6,000. 
Parsonage Reformed Dutch Church—Rev. Dr. Murdock’s — insured for $600. Loss $1,200.
Baptist Church—insured for $2,500. Loss $5,000.
Dwelling of Dr. John Doane—insured.
Dwelling of Mrs. Chares Clarke — insured.
Dwelling of Misses Sherman—insured for $1,000—loss $1,500.

Dwelling of Robert Dorlon — owned by Benjamin Richards, New York, loss $2,000—partially insured. 
Dwelling and Shop of Messrs. Newbury. Loss about $1,000—no insurance 
Dwelling and confectionery of William Barnett—owned by Edwin Croswell—partially insured.
Telegraph Office of J. R. Sylvester-
Shoe Shop of John Rose—
Mechanics’ Hall, loss about $800—Insured for $400.
Lavalle’s Market, belonging to Edwin Croswell, and several other building occupied by colored people, Eggnor’s Tin Pin Alleys, of which we have no information.
Church and School house of the colored people.
Hoses owned by Van Deusen in the rear of the Dutch Church, occupied by Mr. Cargill, and Mr. Clark—insured
H. Brown, proprietor of the Hourly Stage, loses 4 horses, carriages, and considerable house furniture, loss $1000, no insurance.
Independent of the losses sustained the furniture is considerably injures in every place.
Mr. John R. Sylvester will occupy the building one door below Mr. Charles Willard’s, as a temporary Telegraph Office, until the 1st of May.
The above estimates may not be correct, s we have been obliged to collect them hastily.  They will not  vary much, however.
Two Fire Companies from Hudson, kindly volunteered their services. They have the thanks of the community for their assistance.
It was supposed at one time, that all the building on the west side of Broad Street would be destroyed


   The subscriber offers for sale at the sign of the Anvil, and assortment of Grin-stones, at the lowest rates.                                        F. Sayre
Catskill, February 10, 1849

                                       Supplement, Reproduced  by Photo Process

 Another very old stand is the Hill paint store. This was built in 1821 by Peter Breasted. He died in the 50s and was succeeded by Eaton Dunham, and later by H. K. Hill who with his son-in-law, Wm. B. Donahue still continue. It was Mr. Dunham who stationed at his door the iron dog in 1849, which has been the object of curiosity ever since, and which as the result of Halloween pranks was finally  chained fast to prevent the dog from migrating to other points.  Steamboats and stage coaches were the subjects of their art.

George C. Fox on the East side in one of the veteran grocers and has only lately retired in favor of his son Arthur P. Fox who is at the old stand.

There have been more changes in the grocery business than any other business in Catskill. Conklin Brothers, F. H. Russ, Vernon Ford, Geo. C. Cowles, W. E. Minkler, have passed with many others but P. V. R. Timmerman who succeeded Jones and Bagley still remains after 50 years at the upper Main street stand.

Among the earliest grocery firms were Alfred Foote on upper Main street, Foote and Grant, French and Ethridge, Wilcox and Givins, Meach and Beach, Cowles and Meach, Elias Penfield, Meach and Edwards, Shaler and Fox. Mr. Shaler and Mr. Fox alone are living.

More than 85 years ago John Lusk was in the hardware business on Main street. The firm of Mann and Cooke was formed about 1840 and John T. Mann, and Frederick and J. Atwater Cooke were the members of the firm. Frederick Cooke continued the business and was followed by John T. Mann, and later on by Day and Holt, Philip Walsh, and P. Dewitt Hitchcock many years clerk of the village of Catskill, comprising the firm.

Another early hardware dealer was Francis Sayer and John T. Powers, later on Russ and Beach, and Mattice and Wessell, and now the Catskill Hardware Company.

M. H. Johnson, and the Brooks Brothers, Adams and Spencer, H. T. Jones and Son, Conklin and Lattimer are well remembered in later years.

There have been tailors and tailors, and the great Andrew Johnson was once a tailor.  So was Seldon A. Givens one of the early illustrious lawyers of Greene county, but he threw the sad iron away for the law book and he made his mark. Another  carver of cloth in the early days of Catskill was A. N. Hinman, better known as Deacon Hinman. Later came Charles H. Pierson and William Hunter, estimable craftsman, followed by F. S. Lynes whose long and helpful life was spent in making good clothes and his son later in business with him, continued the work at his death several years ago. Mr. Lynes was also one of the pioneers of the First Baptist church.

Of the later clothing men there were F. A. Stahl, and James Wallace an eccentric character who had a penchant for running for nominations, which occasionally he landed. Clothier Abram Joseph has also been here for many years, succeeding Samuel Marks in the 80’s. J. L. Goldbert built the foundations for a fortune in the little store at the end of the town bridge, now occupied as a candy store by Mr. Cunningham.

The first large boarding house in this section was the Prospect Park Hotel, situated at Catskill overlooking the Hudson. It was built in 1809, and the men who were its projectors were: Edwin Croswell, John Breasted, Marcus and George Beach, Robert Seaman and William Scutt all characters of note in early history of the county. The hotel was destroyed by fire in 1914.

Among the hotels for the earlier period that are not remembered by the present generation are the old Catskill House and the Franklin house, the former on the site of the present opera house owned by Terrence Donnelly, and the other where the Irving House stood and the Court house now is.  These building were destroyed in the great fire of 1851, when the Baptist church, Reformed church and many other buildings were destroyed. The West Catskill Hotel was built over 100 years ago by John Plank. He was succeeded by a man named Feeney, Peter Martin, John Bascom, Andrew Overbaugh, Rockerfeller, Ryan and Connerty and now Frank Ryan.

The Windsor hotel was built in the 60s by Enos Gunn, and he was succeeded by William Hahn and Albert Saulpaugh who built the present stately edifice, now conducted by his sons Albert Saulpaugh and Samuel Saulpaugh.

The Irving house was built by the Persons and was destroyed to make room for the new Court house in 1908.

The Commercial Hotel was built by Enos Gunn who sold to Philip Gay, who was succeeded by his son, Ira and William Gay, who sold to William Bell who enlarged the property. The present proprietor is C. Clement.

We do not know when the Smith House was built, but it is very old, and was enlarged and improved by Martin Smith, and later by his son William Smith a very popular hotel man, and is now conducted by his son Ed. Smith. John Smith another son is also in the hotel business conducting the Jefferson Hotel and the Irving Café.

In the early 30’s there was the Brossenham hotel near the West Shore Bridge on Upper Main street, conducted by Foote and Grant, two conspicuous men of their day. This was a drover’s hotel. The building is still standing.

Just beyond this was the Bull’s Head, kept by Wm. Salisbury. The sign was painted by Thomas Cole the great painter and poet, father of Theodore Cole of Catskill.

The illustration above will be familiar to some of our readers. It was torn down in 1902 and gave place to the Young Mens Christian Association building, which certainly is a very great improvement. The old Arcade as it was called, had four tenements on the second floor, and the street floor was used as a market and cigar store.  Henry Fredenburg the owner occupied it as a fish market, and before that time John Hulbert around the 80s. The building had never received a coat of paint and was in a weather beaten condition. It was built as near as we are able to find out around 1812. Its appearance would indicate that it was among the first frame buildings in Catskill.

August 15, 1901 F. N. Du Bois placed in the hands of W. I. Jennings a check for $25,000 which was given for the purpose of building a Young Mens Christian Association building. Shortly after Fredenburg Arcade was purchased and the grand building that stands as a monument to Mr. Du Bois, generosity and philanthropy was erected.

Saddle and Stage Coach

The first pleasure party of Pine Orchard, the point where the Catskill Mountain House is located was made in 1823, and comprised a number of ladies and gentlemen of note on horse back, and they spent the night under some shelving rocks.  At this time work had been commenced on the mountain house. Mr. Beach who afterwards became owner of the Mountain house, conducted the party over the bridle paths all the way to Utica. It took three weeks.

During 1831, the Mannings conducted a stage line from New York to Ithaca, and Catskill was the principal stop on the way. From Catskill there was a stage line that went as far as Delhi, and we believe that Charles L. Beach was connected with that line, and had later on in 1837 the contract for carrying the government mails, between New York City and Albany during the winter season when there was no steamboat travel. In this connection the reader will be interested in the old poster which we have reproduced and which refers to the establishment of the first stage line between Catskill and Albany. This poster was found among curios preserved by Judge Chase, and the engraver has given us a copy that is very excellent. This line was started in 1833. Trips were made daily. Through horse relays we are told that the distance between New York and Albany was covered daily.

There appears to be much uncertainty in regard to the location of the first school house in Catskill. One building it is certain was converted into the old county jail.  There was another school later on William street, near what is Mrs. Avery’s place. There was still another on Thompson street, which in the 50’s was occupied by the Methodist as a place of worship. There was also the academy on William street, now the Fiero residence. There was a colored school on Bridge street, which shows in the picture of Catskill in 1839, and still another on the West side which is now the hose house.   It was in this building that F.N. Du Bois went to school in the 30’s, and he tells of riding down hill on an old door and that the door was usually loaded with pupils, who when the bottom was reached always got a spill. The academy was incorporated in 1804. This was a stock corporation and there were 520 shares of 4 pounds sterling each. James Du Bois, Cornelius Du Bois, Caty Du Bois, Sally Du Bois, Priscilly Adams and Sally Spicer and many other. Elisha Bishop was at the head of this school. This building was sold to the Fieros around 1870 and raised up one story for a dwelling.

A strange coincidence in the construction of the several school buildings in Catskill in the past 50 years: Contractor Geo. W. Holdridge who is one of the oldest of the old time business men, Charles Beardsley for over 40 years with Lampman firm, and Architect George Warner were all employed by L. S. and William Smith who had the contract to build the brick school building. They were apprentices at that time.  On the next building which was the Grandview school, Mr. Holdridge had the contract, and Charles Beardsley was foreman for the Lampmans who did the carpenter work.  When the Irving school building was erected Mr. Holdridge had the contract for the mason, Charles Beardsley was employed as foremen by Wm. Lampman who had the carpenter work and George H. Warner was architect.

Early Manufacturing

Among the early industries of Greene county which have passed there was a glue factory at Durham, a mill at Oak Hill for grinding land plaster, a printing press manufactory at Windham, by Newbury & Morse, and a number of paper mills, at Woodstock and Windham, a carpet bag and satchel factory at Windham, and at the same place a factory for making wooden combs and tine and wooden buttons, conducted by Hunt and Matthews. Hay rakes and chairs were made at Windham. Paper at Big Hollow. There was a distillery at Red Falls and another at Windham, and still another at Durham. There was a potash factory at Lexington, also a distillery. Oak Hill had two foundries making hardware supplies, and Palenville had a big wooden mill. Several old grist mills are still in operation.

Near High Falls was located a powder mill owned by Mr. Laflin, and this later developed into the great firm of Laflin and Rand as it now is. The powder mill employed a considerable number of men, and on a number of occasions it blew up. Once 7 persons were killed and at another time three. The men made from $80 to $100 per month.

This mill was at one time Laflin, Smith and Boice. This mill blew up a number of times. The last time was in 1875, John Merritt being the only man killed. After this the mill was moved to New Jersey.

Rufus T. Smith, one of the old residents of High Falls, informs us that one of the industries at High Falls (or Great Falls as the name is on one of the old maps drawn by George Smith, who removed to Ohio before Mr. Smith’s recollection, has it) was the saw mill erected by the late Comfort K. Smith below the Falls, doing custom work and also for working up the timber on his own place.

Christopher Teetsel of Quarryville was boss carpenter, John Shultis, Peter Van Hoesen, Alex, C. Whitney and R. T. Smith did the carpenter work on this mill. Reuben Towner of Hunter, was the millright. He put in the saws and the Ferguson water wheel to run the sash or gatesaw.

This mill was built in 1867-8. The mill was enlarged later and circular saws for slitting up slabs, and blocks for shingles added. Smith’s Greene Mountain shingle machine was put in and considered a great invention. Reuben Towner installed this machine and it was driven by a wooden center discharged water wheel. Two years later a turning lathe, planer and matcher for dressed lumber was added.

Then the building was further enlarged, William Shoemaker of Vineland N. J. doing the stone work. After several years the old wooden water wheel was discarded, a Rich wheel being put in, and then later on an Alcott turbine, by R. T. Smith, son of C. K. Smith, assisted by Alex Whitney and John B. Smith. He moved to Brooklyn, but inherited the mill property and not wishing to operate it he sold to Levi Richtmyer of Kaatsban. Richtmyer sold to Dederick and Sterritt, and they disposed of the business to T. P. Cowhey of New York.

The dam is gone and the mill a heap of ruins.

Around 1818 Marvin and Co. built a large factory above the falls for the manufacture of chisels, augers,  and other tools, and even at this date may be found chisels and marked Marvin & Co., Catskill.

There was also an old factory standing above the Falls bridge, which during the 50’s in the heavy fall of snow was crushed in and never repaired.

Right at the edge of the falls was an old grist mill. This was in disuse as long ago as Mr. Smith can remember.

A short distance up the stream was another saw mill.

The old grist mill was burned in the 60’s and at that time was being used as a spoke and handle factory by Willis Davis.

Mr. Smith says that he has heard his grandfather tell how they used to attend worship at the Caatsban church when they took their guns along and left them outside, while one person was left to watch.  They had no stoves in the churches and the women carried foot stoves and warming pans.

Zachariah Trumpbour who built the old stone house near Smith’s Mills, 1768, was great grandfather of R. T. Smith of High Falls.

The old barn east of the Kaatsban church, standing today was erected just after the close of revolution, the lumber being gathered before the war was decided. The owner, a man named Celie, was a Troy and he did not dare to go ahead until he knew whether the Colonies of King George would win out.

The covered bridge at Cauterskill, and the covered bridge at Great Falls, were built previous to the period of 1860. We have not been able to find any record, however.

Several of the old wooden covered bridges were built in 1857, after the great freshet which carried off the older structures.

Project of a railroad from Catskill to Athens was boomed, and application made to the legislature  to have same incorporated.

The Du Bois mill at Wolcotts was destroyed by a freshet in 1809.

Values Increasing

From the assessment roll of the town of Catskill for 1850 we discover that the entire town tax amounted to $7,076, and so far as we can discover there is not a single individual tax payer of that day down on the tax roll except Peter Timmerman $3.55, and of the three incorporated companies, one the Catskill Bridge Company paid a tax on $5000 which amounted to $39.30. The rate was .0071. The Tanners National and Catskill National Banks were assessed at $93,700 and $110,500 the tax being $661 and $780. Senator Jones was assessed for $1300 at that time.  Of the list of town officers there is not a man living:

This land today is valued at about $2,500,000 and the town taxes are $100.000. The state, school, village and water tax amount to more than $100,000 per year in addition.

Rufus H. King was Supervisor, George Peck, town clerk, William Dodd, Lindsey Beach, Robert Dorlon and John Van Vechten were justices.

Charles Austin, town superintendent. 

Peter Sax. Peter Van Vechten and Joel Comfort, assessors.

Phineas Chidester, commissioner of highways. 

Francis Dunham and John Wardle, overseers of the poor. 

Egbet Bogardus, collector. 

Samuel A. Baker, John France, Isaac Laraway and James Cash, constables. 

In 1807 there were 24 licenses issued to Catskill dealers to sell liquors, and the fee was $5.  Among the dealers were Hiland Hill, Philo Day, Orrin Day, Thaddeus Luddington, and some today may remember Luddington’s Oyster Bay at the corner of Bridge and Main street, torn down with other buildings to make room for the court house and jail.

Today there are in the liquor business in Catskill about 15 persons. The license fee if $200 for hotels and there are no saloons, these having been voted out several years ago. Most of these are modern up to date hostelries, well conducted, and the traveler finds a pleasant host and good food.

The Smith House, The Saulpaugh, Clement’s Commercial and Loud’s Hotel at the Point are the leaders. On the west side are Ryan’s West Catskill Hotel, Deidlings, Oberts, and Wadonolos.

The first supervisor of Catskill was Hezekiah Van Orden, who represented the Imbogt. Then followed Henry Oathut, Samuel Van Vechten, Garret Abeel, Martin Schuneman, Samuel Haight, Johnathan Keyes, Thomas Hale, William Seaman, Aaron Hall, Jacob Haight, Robert Dorlon, Ira Du Bois, Malbon Watson, Rufus H. King, Wilson Paige, Atwater Cook, Henry Johnson, Addison P. Jones, Alexander Wiltse, John H. Bagley, Hiram Van Steenburgh, Sherwood Day, Samuel Dewey, Robert Austin, John A. Griswold, William Smith, John Breasted, William Donahue, H. C. Bulkley, James B. Olney, George S. Stevens, A. P. Jones W. S. C. Wiley, P. G. Coffin, Charles A. Post, Henry Van Orden, and J. Henry Deane complete the list of Supervisors.

 Bounty on Wolves

Jewett and Lexington appear to have been overrun with wolves, long since extinct, and there was a bounty of $40 on every wolf killed. Jacob Van Valkenburgh of Lexington had the fences near his place ornamented with hundreds of wolve’s noses to show that the bounty had been paid on them.  There were also many panthers and wild cats in that section. There were many great bears, and plenty of deer. There are still some bears and a few mighty bear hunters. Barney Butts at East Windham was a great bear hunter and always had bears on exhibition. Another great hunter was a man named Holdridge of Lexington. Ernest Chadderdon of Cairo captured 3 bears in February in 1915. The bounty is now on hedgehogs, and the bear has no terrors at all for the hunter.

Destructive Fires in County

The old mill in Austin’s Glen was built in 1800, burned in 1807, rebuilt by the Austin family in 1815.

Great fire in Catskill 1851, loss over $50,000.

The Samuel Harris woolen mill at Leeds was burned with three dwelling with a loss of $30,000, and several smaller fires since that time, the fire in 1914 being the most destructive.

Bell’s Facing Mill and ice house 1882, Foote and Cumming Lumber yard.

Summit Hill House, Catskill, 1908, loss $20,000, the barn in 1899.

Block of buildings and storehouse at Athens in 1871.

Knickerbocker Ice house fire at New Baltimore, loss $25,000, 1900

Ship Yard fired A. J. Vanderpool, at New Baltimore in 1894, damage $25,000.

The Ice house and coal depot of Raymond Smith, Catskill was burned 1913.

The Little Falls House at South Cairo was destroyed in 1914, the loss being $7,000.

Among the very destructive fires that have visited the county we note: Haines Falls House, 1911, loss $75,000.

Squirrel Inn at Haines Falls, 1910, loss $10,000.

Prospect Park Hotel, Catskill, 1914, loss $50,000.

Jennings Hotel, Cairo, 1914, loss $15,000.

The Hart House at the Point, 1908.

West Shore Depot, Catskill, 1909.

M. P. Mc Cage’s West Shore Hotel, 1909.

Steamboat storehouse, Catskill, burned twice, 1899, 1912.

Machines shop of Catskill Mountain Ry. at Point.

Twilight Inn at Haines Falls $4,500 damage, 1914.

Hotel of Matutinoich at Alsen.

Ice house at Cementon.

Coxsackie like Leeds had been fire swept. The most destructive were the West Shore freight house, Wm. Perry’s hotel and barns, Jansen’s dock property and coal sheds at the Lower Landing in 1913.

J. H. Goodwin & Sons Coal yard West Coxsackie, 1914.

Joseph Holdridge, an Ashland man, had a rather unusual experience. Over the door of his barn was a hornet’s nest and these pests were in the habit of stinging his horses and men,.  One day he thought it would be a brilliant idea to burn the nest out. And so he got a torch and set fire to it.  Some of the hornets got away and some of them were burned to death, and the nest was as might have been expected destroyed, but so also was the barn. The surprising part of it all was that knowing the facts the insurance company paid him $250, the amount of their risk.

Horton Brother’s barns, Smith Hay buildings, I. W. Brandow barn, J. Person’s shop, S. Fontanella building, A. Yannone’s and M. E. Church sheds, loss $200,000, 1913.

Lennon’s Mill at the Forge, Cairo, destroyed in 1911, loss $7,000.

Store of C. E. Whitcomb at Purling, 1913, loss $10,000.

Shady Glen House, Durham, loss $20,000, 1900 and again in 1913.

Twin Pine House in 1914.

Athens has had a number of destructive fires, the White Elephant railroad property, 1874.

Osborn House and other buildings, 1878.

Destructive fire of 1913.

Apke’s Hotel at Palenville, 1899.

Examiner Office fire, 1900.

Store of Nicholas D’Onifro at Athens, destroyed by fire in 1907.

Residence of Peter Fitchett at Coxsackie destroyed by fire  1908.

Residence of George Cleveland, at Norton  Hill, loss $1200, in 1903.

Residence of Ingalls place at East Jewett, loss $3,000, 1903.

Apartment house of B. K. Van Valkenburgh, Catskill, loss $3,000, 1903.

Hotel of Henry Smith, South Cairo, loss $4,000, 1903.

Jacob’s Bottling Work, Cairo, loss $10,000, 1899.

The fire at the Smith House, Catskill was one of the latest fires in Catskill doing any considerable amount of damage.  Great work by the local fire department kept the building from being destroyed.

The First Baptist Church, Catskill burned in 1871.

St. Luke’s Church, Catskill was destroyed by fire in 1839.

Simmons house in Jefferson, erected around 1800 was burned in 1913.

Boarding house A. Amman burned near Catskill, 1891, loss $7,000.

The record of fires up to March 1, 1915.

The Boston Store, Post’s Building and Church’s store. Also Smith’s store and Daily Mail, the loss approximating $100,000 in 1913.

Catskill Schools

One of the earliest events in the history of the schools of Catskill village, is recorded in a subscription paper, dated August 23, 1793 “for the purpose of raising the sum of four hundred pounds for the erection of an academy at Catskill Landing. It would appear that this sum was not sufficient for at a meeting May 10, 1795, it was resolved that 120 shares should be added to the number already subscribed for the purpose of erecting and maintaining an academy.  The trustees of this time were: Stephen Day, George Hale and Caleb Street.

The first teacher of this school was Elisha Bishop, whose register contained the following names of pupils attending for the term beginning August 17, 1797, and ending March 17, 1798.

Arastus Stephns                          James Bogardus
George Brosnahan                      James Du Bois
John Brosnaham                         Lina Bogardus
John Rimph                                 Wessel Van Orden
Edward Hayns                            Henry Van Orden
Jesse Pratt                                    Jacob Stephens
Betsy Stodard                              Henry Stephns
Elisha Bishop                              Benjamin Van Orden
Sally Bishop                                 Harriette Day
Polly Bishop                                Elizer Root
Caty Du Bois                               Betsy Drake
Sally Du Bois                              Anna Drake
Cornelius Du Bois                      Charles Cammel
Peter Schoot                                 Sally Cammel
Jacob Schoot                                 Joel Persons
Ginna Van Gorden                      Precilla Addoms
John Du Bois                                Sally Spicer

It is not known at what time other schools were established, however in 1803, there were three schools in the village. The village school was located a few yards southeasterly form the Old Court House. It is described as an unpainted, square building, with its windows placed directly opposite each other.  

The teachers in the village school were, usually persons who were pursing their theological studies under the direction of Dr. Porter.

On March 12, 1804, the Catskill Academy was incorporated by the Board of Regents.

It was about 1814 that another school, often referred to as the Academy, was located on the north side of Thomson Street. This edifice was built partly of wood and partly of brick, and enjoyed the distinction of having the only bell in town, except that on the Old Court House.  It was this bell which was rung on Sundays to call congregation of St. Luke’s together.  The bell on the Old Court House preformed a similar service for those who were accustomed to worship at the Presbyterian Meeting house.

Other schools contemporaneous of these times were the Catskill Lancasterian School Society, incorporated by the Legislature in 1817; and the Catskill Female Seminary, incorporated in 1820. The charter of the former was revoked by the Legislature of 1830. of the later it is claimed that it was never organized.

After a time the Village School came to be looked upon as “too sectarian and the Academy as too promiscuous” and the conservative part of the community resolved to establish another institution. A building for this purpose was erected near Franklin Street. Of this school, the first teacher was Robert K. Moulton of whom it is said, “that aside from his penmanship he possessed very few qualifications as a teacher and that he did not long remain.”

Mr. Moulton was succeeded by one Leguire, who is described as, “a half crazy individual, with a red wig. He too was a splendid penman, but instead of imparting a knowledge of the art to his pupils, he made use of his talent in that line by writing love letters to his female scholars.”

From the best authority it appears that District Number One was organized in March 1823 and that Joseph Simmons was the first teacher. His salary was $25.00 per month and thirty pupils were in attendance.

The Union Free School was organized in 1856 and in 1861 the school was advanced to the grade of Academy, of whom Prof. H. B. Howe was the first principal.

The front part of the present high school building was built in 1869 by Amos Story and S. W. Smith at the cost of $25,000.

In 1882 an appropriation of $6,000 was voted for an addition to the academy. The work was done by Mull and Fromer.  It is in this addition that the eighth grades are now located.

It was in 1893, at the suggestion of Prof. E. S. Harris, Principal of the Academy, that an enumeration of the inhabitants of the district was taken and it being ascertained that the district had the required population, the Office of Superintendent of Schools was created and Prof. Harris became the first Superintendent of Schools.

The next important step in the progress of the elementary schools was erection of the Grandview School in 1896, at a cost of $20,000. This is a beautiful two story brick building of eight grade rooms.

By 1907 the village had grown to such an extent that the school facilities, for grade pupils, were inadequate. To meet the demands the Irving School was erected at a cots of $45,000.  This is one of the finest school buildings on the Hudson River.  It had nine grade rooms and the offices of the Board of Education and Superintendent of Schools.  The building is provided with a modern heating plant and mechanical system of ventilation.

This school system provides for the kindergarten and eight grades below the high school.

Each grade is in charge of a competent teacher. Special teachers give instruction in Music, Drawing and Domestic Science.

The people of this district are much interested in the schools and give them generous and hearty support.

The Catskill Schools are the best to be found along the Hudson river and furnish a complete education, taking up the college preparatory course, the academic and commercial courses of study—art, science, stenography, language, and music.

There is also a Teachers’ training class, with free tuition.

The pupils also have the advantage of three special prizes, the Mary Howard, J. P. Philip and H. L. Austin prizes for efficiency.

The death of Charles A. Nicoll, trustee, occurred after this article was ready for the press.

The instructors are:  Henry C. Thomas, Ella L. De La Mater, Henrietta Lewis, Marian F. Wheeler, Mildred F. Stone, Louise A. Hull, Myrtle E. Waugh, Kathrine G. Slattery, Edna Clark, Mary L. Hale, H. May Ford, kindergarten.

The instructors in the High School are Harriet D. Jackson, principal; English;  Mabel V. Root, Latin;  Gertrude R. Gardner, History and Algebra; Gilberta Wallace, German and French; Ellen M. Dewey, Science; Evangeline Bartlett, Commercial Subjects; Mollie C. Gilbert, Mathematics; Frances M. Wood, Domestic Science; Jennie Robson, Training Class; Margaret E. Place, Music and Drawing.

The instructors of the Grandview School:  Elizabeth E. Burhans, principal;  Alice Babcock, Ildah Thompson, Ruth I.

The Board of Education: Frank C. Clarke, Howard C. Smith, Wendell S. Sherman, George W. Irwin, and Albert C. Bloodgood.

School Officials: Frank C. Clark, president; Wendell S. Sherman, clerk; John H. Story, Treasurer; Frederick Becker, collector.

Bostrom, Alice L. Adams, Bernice E. Hammond and Mary B. Story.

Prof. W. C. Hocmer, Superintendent.

Through the courtesy of the Catskill Examiner we show a line drawing of the Catskill High School building as it appeared in 1869, and 1882 with the addition. Also on another page a picture of the old academy, located on William street. We are sure they will prove of interest.

Some Catskill Landmarks

Captain John H. Bagley was one of the Catskill’s most honored citizens, who dropped dead at the corner of Bridge and Main streets, in October 1902 at the age of 70 years. He had been intimately connected with many of Catskill’s enterprises and for a long term of years was in the grocery business with A. P. Jones, and also in a flouring mill known as Catskill Steam Mill which later became a part of the woolen mill now occupied by the Union Mills Company. From 1860 to 1864 he was a member of the Board of Supervisors, and in 76-78 and 83-85 represented his district in Congress. In 1888 he was a Member of Assembly. For years also village trustee, and for 35 years a director of the Catskill National Bank.  President of the Catskill Building and Loan Association, vice-president of the Catskill Mt. Ry., a director of the Co-Operative and Mutual Fire Companies, a member of F. N. Wilson Fire Company, Catskill Lodge, and of Lafayette Commandry of Hudson.  He was a  vestryman of St. Luke’s Episcopal church.

Shortly after the death of Capt. Bagley came almost as suddenly that of Oliver Bourke, esq. who is inseparably connected with Catskill’s history. He was born at Bellana County, Ireland in 1830. His mother and step-father moved to Quebec in 1836, and in 1840 came to Catskill, where his step-father, James Laville engaged in  butchering, and that was continued by Mr. Bourke until the time of his death November 1802 (1902?). He served Catskill as trustee and also as police justice.

Another octogenarian who was connected with Catskill business life was Noble P. Cowles, who came form the Puritan Stock of Southington, Ct., where he was born in 1818. And the first at Windham he embarked in tailoring, and later at Catskill in the grocery business, the firm being Meech, Sage and Cowles.  For years he was Loan Commissioner of the county being succeeded after his death Dec. 5, 1902 by Robert Story.

Benjamin Wey is another of he grand men of Catskill who filled out a long and useful life, in Catskill, having touched the 83d milestone when he passed suddenly while taking an afternoon ride in October 1910.  He was connected with may Catskill enterprises, including the Banks, Mountain railroad, and up to 1875 was in the drug business. For more than 20 years he was treasurer of Christ’s Presbyterian church.

Senator Addison P. Jones who served Catskill in many official stations was for 87 years connected with the history of Catskill, and is best remembered as a partner with  Captain Bagley in grocery and other enterprises, including a big tannery at the head of Main street, as supervisor, county superintendent of poor, senator, etc.  He was conspicuous in the political field. He was connected with the local banks and prominent in church work. At the time of his death, May 5, 1910, he had retired to his farm, but was engaged in the manufacture of barrels.

John Hardwick, an old time brick manufacturer with Robert Ferrier and J. Atwater Cooke, died in September, 1900.

In October, 1900 the Rev. Wm. C. Oliver drove off the bank into the creek at Palenville and his dead body was found under wagon in the morning.

Major William Plimley is another one of the historical characters of Greene county not to be lost sight of  in making  up the record of men whose memory its residents have been pleased to cherish.  Major Plimley was a Catskill boy who for many years made his way  by setting type in the office of the Catskill Recorder. Responding to his country’s call he went to the front and served with distinction being in many battles and rising to the rank of major.  He was close friend to Senator Platt and many of the leading men who gained national repute, and was Department Chief of the Board of Elections of New York City. For 28 years Superintendent of the Money Order Department of New York City. He left Catskill in 1861 and went to the front as a volunteer.  He was the originator and for two years the president of the Greene County Society. He died in 1913, dropping dead at his post of labors.  Mrs. Plimley who was also a Greene county native was born in Athens, and was one of the descendents of the honored Hallenbeck family. Her father held many important positions in town affairs. Mrs. Plimley for the past few months came to Catskill and made her home at the Heidelburgh, where she died on Sunday, March 7, 1915.

It was during the pastorate of William J. Finneran, that St. Patrick’s church gained great prominence in the community and he erected the beautiful church in 1886, and in 1890 opened the parochial school. His death followed after a most successful work, in April, 1900. At his funeral every business place in Catskill closed and the most impressive service was attended by a great crowd, among the number being 50 priests from other places.

Sidney Crowell was one of the well known lawyers of the county. He started out at Prattsville, and in  1871 being elected District Attorney, moved to Catskill. The famous Joe Walsh trial was during his term and he was assisted by John A. Griswold with whom afterwards he formed a law partnership. In later years he was associated with Hon. Ira B. Kerr. He died in March 1900.

Hon. James B. Olney, leading lawyer of Greene county, died at Catskill, Dec. 11, 1900. One of the organizers of the Rip Van Winkle Club.

Peter Timmerman, on of Catskill’s oldest business men was born at Catskill, May 8, 1830, and for many years was employed in the store of Jones and Bagley. He went into business for himself in 1884, and in 1906 purchased the property on upper Main street where he moved his grocery and feed business. The business has mostly passed into the hands of his son, Clarence Timmerman.

Hon. Geo. S. Stevens, former world’s fair commissioner, engineer Mallory Line steamers, postmaster of Catskill under Cleveland, and editor of the Recorder, died Jan. 1901.

One of the most prominent men of Greene county who passed away Aug. 11, 1915, was William H. Stewart, of Athens, known the county over as “Hardy” Stewart, former sheriff of Greene county, who by sterling character and ability forced his way from grocery clerk in the store of his uncle David Whitting, to the ownership of the largest hotel in Athens which for 38 years he conducted successfully, and being honored with trusteeship of the village of Athens, school trustee, and for 3 years sheriff of Greene county getting a splendid majority.  He was a prominent fireman of the village and one of the organizers of the Morton Steamer Co.   Also honorary member of Macawomuc Engine Company and the Hook and Ladder Company. He was a member of the Exempt Firemen’s Association, and prominent in the councils of the Elks, Odd Fellows and Knights of Pythias.  He was also an honorary member of the Citizens Hose Company of Catskill, and a member of the Rip Van Winkle Club. At the time when Mr. Stewart took possession of the hotel in Athens it was regarded as a difficult place to manage.  He at once asserted the genial power that followed him through life, and Stewart House took a position at the front. On the occasion of his death the order of Elks took charge of the last rites and the service was attended by hundreds from all quarters of the county. The floral display was noteworthy. Mr. Stewart was born at Urlton in 1850, his parents being William Stewart and Margaret Hardwick Stewart. He was married to Elizabeth I. Hallenbeck of Guilderland. There were three children, one died in infancy, Wilford, at the age of ten years, and Harriet W. wife of Abram Post is living and Mr. Post has charge of the hotel business. Mr. Post was deputy sheriff under Mr. Stewart, and assisted him in many ways. The men who served as deputy sheriffs were: A. Blenis, Greenville, Martin Chamberlain, Prattville, S. Coffin, Athens, Michael Lackey, Tannersville, Bert Dewell Windham, S. Bareley, Jewett, D. S. Smith, New Baltimore, Ed. Griffin, Lexington, Seymour Taylor, Durham.

Among the great artists that Greene county had turned out are Thomas Cole, Col. B. B. G. Stone, and Herbert Faulkner.

H. K. Hill, another of Catskill’s business men commenced business in 1872, and has since continued at the old stand on Main street. His father Oliver Hill came from Keene, N. H. in 1818 and started a paint store in 1832.

George Wilcox died at the Commercial Hotel, Catskill, March 4th, 1915, at the age of 84 years. He was a brother of Howard Wilcox who died a few days before and was for over 60 years in business in Catskill.

Horace Van Aken, prominent Catskillian, killed by trolley car near his shop, Feb. 1091.

Mary Robinson who died at Windham in December, 1900, was a sister of Governor Lucius Robinson, and mother of Lucius R. and William Doty of Catskill.

H. T Jones whose place of business is opposite the Commercial Hotel has been in business in Catskill since 1870, coming here some 13 years previous to that date, from Greenville, and engaging in the tinning business at John T. Mann’s store. At that time there was a great boom in Catskill. He was formerly from New York.

No history of New York state would be complete without reference to Isaac Jogues, 1607-1646, a French Jesuit Missionary who labored in this section and who was a martyr to the cause he represented. He was captured by the Indians and tortured, once being compelled to run the gauntlet, and in 1646 he and his companion were tomahawked by the Mohawk Indians, after Jogues had been tortured by having strips of flesh cut from his arms, and back.  The Chapel at Auriesville erected in his memory is regarded most sacredly. Previous to this he had returned to Albany (Fort Orange) with a special commission from Pope Innocent XI.

 Home       Table of Contents      Greene County Overview  Home Page

Dear Old Greene County Homepage